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“Escape to Paradise” tells refugees’ story

Real asylum seekers acting in Nino Jacusso's new film. "Escape to Paradise"

A new film, Escape to Paradise, directed by Nino Jacusso, uses real asylum seekers as actors in a dramatised version of their attempts to find refuge in Switzerland.

Jacusso, whose parents immigrated to Switzerland from southern Italy, has established a reputation for weaving elements of new realism into his films, particularly with the use of performances by “real people” in fictionalised accounts of fact-based stories.

Escape to Paradise, described as a tragicomedy, involves so-called Real Actors from eight cultures, who have all been refugees.

The Swiss official in the film actually works for canton Solothurn, whereas the experiences of the Kurdish protagonist are drawn from those of Sehmuz Karadag.

The film also attempts to look at the humorous side of the refugees’ experiences at a halfway house while taking into accounts the effects of their often terrifying experiences.

Kurdish refugee

Escape to Paradise revolves around the fortunes of a Kurdish refugee, Sehmuz (Düzgün Ayhan) who fled Turkey with his wife, Delal and their three children, to seek political asylum in Switzerland.

The film traces the events following the family’s arrival at an asylum centre, which houses refugees from Africa and East Europe as well.

However, the officials in the film find the refugees’ stories dubious and in an attempt to convince them, Sehmuz, is sent by a compatriot, Aziz, to a Swiss “storyseller” (played by the actor, Walo Lüond) who creates a credible story for him, along with documents.

Sehmuz painstakingly memorises his new biography with the help of his children. But at the crucial interview with the Swiss authorities, his memory fails him.

The film was made with the assistance of the International Red Cross, the Catholic charity, Caritas, and the Swiss Refugee Council.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR